A liberating breeze of western civilisation? : a political history of fundamental pedagogics as an expression of Dutch-Afrikaner relationships.
Suransky-Dekker, A. Caroline
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Fundamental pedagogics was the only education theory that was taught to the vast majority of student teachers during the apartheid era. This exclusivity was consciously created and maintained in the context of Christian National Education. The proponents of fundamental pedagogics attempted to legitimise their theory by invoking the work of the Dutch educator, M.J. Langeveld. At first glance, there is indeed a remarkable resemblance between Langeveld's pedagogy and fundamental pedagogics. This thesis investigates why similar-sounding statements of the two pedagogies turn out to mean something quite different in their distinctive contexts. Previously, critics have analysed fundamental pedagogics as if it were a South African invention. Its Dutch origins, diffusion and reinterpretation were lost in these analyses. This study emphasises and investigates the Dutch roots of fundamental pedagogics and traces its historical journey from Holland to South Africa. This journey, set between 1881 and 1963, is presented in two historical narratives, both constructed around unique data sources. This thesis presents fundamental pedagogics as an adaptation, arguably a distortion, of Dutch education theory, mediated largely by politically conservative and racist forces. The largely indiscriminate adoption of the rhetoric of Dutch social thought showed a disrespect for the complexity of the relationship between pedagogical theories and their site of production. Langeveld's education theory was developed in the context of post Second World War Holland on a modernist and social democracy ticket. Fundamental pedagogics emerged in apartheid South Africa in an ethnic-nationalist and racist environment. These divergent meanings clearly expose pedagogy as a political as well as an educational project. This study concludes that the attempt to legitimise fundamental pedagogics by invoking its Dutch roots failed. Some of the central claims and assumptions of the original theory were abandoned to accommodate apartheid conditions.